Among the posters and banners lining the long wall behind the pulpit in the storefront church was one that collected the names ascribed to Jesus in Scripture: “The resurrection and the life/ Judge/ Lord of Lords/ Man of Sorrows/ Master/ High Priest/ Door/ Living Water/ Bread of Life/ Rose of Sharon/ Divine Messiah/ Light of the World/ Image of the Invisible God.” There were more, but that last one was perhaps the most germane to Sunday’s service, which repeatedly took up the rather thorny (if rarely preached upon) theological issue of the precise relation between Jesus and His Father (and, for that matter, the Holy Ghost). Amid the praise and petition, amid the heartfelt testimonials and expressions of concern for the suffering and downtrodden, amid the drawn out “Hallelujahs” and the interjected “Amens,” there was a detailed reading of Scripture and an impassioned argument.
After the opening hymns, Sister Harris gave a lesson on Jesus’ name. “Does anybody know why it’s necessary for us to know the name of Jesus?”
“Because there is salvation in no other name,” came the reply.
“Amen. You must know His name if you want to be saved. ‘There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ Jesus’ name is the supreme name.” Why? Because, according to the handout, it is a combination of God’s name (“He is” or “Jehovah”) plus the notion of being a Savior (“Yeshua, meaning ‘Jehovah saves’”). “Since Jehovah is the only Savior [the text here cites Isaiah saying “There is no other Savior”], it is clear that Jesus is none other than Jehovah manifested in the flesh to provide salvation.” As Sister Harris said, “Jesus does not change — so He was God, too, because He says in Scripture, ‘My Father and I are one.’ But we knew Him as Jesus, who would save the people from their sins.”
The cantor noted another passage from Isaiah: “As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God” — a line echoed in Paul’s claim that “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.”
“That’s wonderful,” said Pastor John Massie, taking the podium. “From Genesis to Revelation, you can see Jesus all the way. He’s God. ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.’ It’s all wrapped up in Jesus Christ! No other name is given among men.... ‘Father’ won’t save us; ‘Son’ won’t save us. Only ‘Jesus’.” As if to drive the point home, he led the congregation in what he called “the revelation song,” his hand beating time on the podium as his deep voice bulled forth over the drums, the electric piano, and the harmonizing congregation:
“A mighty God is Jesus/ The Prince of Peace is He/ The everlasting Father/ The king eternally... The fullness of the Godhead/ It’s all in Him.”
“It’s a revelation,” concluded Massie, “and I’m going to show it to you in the Scriptures. ‘Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father.”’ Listen: ‘Jesus said unto him, “Have I been so long a time with you, and yet thou hast not known me, Philip? He that has seen me hath seen the Father.... I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”’ Who is the Father?” Massie answered with the angel’s message to Mary: “‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee’...and God is a spirit.”
Later, Brother James Rosier, preaching on maintaining a firm foundation in preparation for the world’s end, taught that “Jesus was God manifested in the flesh.... The word of God says that He enrobed himself in flesh.” Rosier warned against those who preach contrary to sound doctrine: “They’ve come up with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost up in heaven, all kinds of things, and they’ve left the principles of the doctrine of the word of God.... There’s only one God, and He has only one plan! Be sure that you’re on the right foundation!” And he cited the passage from Acts 2, the same one posted on the front of the pulpit: “Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’.”
“Jesus is coming soon; where will you and I spend eternity?” asked Massie at the conclusion. “Flowers and beautiful things are fading away, but we have to spend eternity somewhere. I don’t want to be outside of God.”
What happens when we die?
“We make a transition,” said Massie. “We go to be with the Lord. The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present to the Lord. That’s my expectation, and that’s what I’m living by, and living on.”
Word of Life Pentacostal Church
Address: 4128 30th Street, North Park, 619-281-9115
Senior pastor: John H. Massie, Sr.
Congregation size: fluctuating, about 10 on Sunday
Staff size: no paid staff
Sunday school enrollment: none at the moment
Annual budget: n/a
Weekly giving: n/a (no collection taken, offering basket up front)
Singles program: no
Dress: casual to formal
Sunday worship: 10 a.m., 6:30 p.m.
Length of reviewed service: 2 hours, 25 minutes